Whether you prefer riding glove-less or like your grips chunky, ESI has been quietly making a variety of grips in a wide assortment of colors for over a decade.
So after hearing nothing but rave reviews for years about the product, I finally picked up a set to try out myself. See how they stack up to lockons after the break.
The ESI grips are simple and with no metal or tiny hardware to strip, they’re incredibly light. The company currently offers three different versions of their grips which differ only in diameter.
Their thinnest grip, the racer’s edge, has an installed diameter or 30mm and weighs a claimed 50 g. On our scale, the grips came in at 52 g with the included bar plugs. For comparison, a standard set of lock on grips usually weighs twice that.
ESI also produces a Chunky and Extra Chunky version which have a 32 and 34mm installed diameter and weigh 60 and 80 g respectively.
Like a standard Oury grip, it’s best to wipe the handlebar clean and then use either rubbing alcohol, a glass cleaner, or hairspray to help slide the grips on.
When we spoke with ESI, they recommended we cap one end of the grip and pour in a small capful of rubbing alcohol. After swirling the fluid inside the grip, we were told to pour the remaining solution onto the handlebar and slide the grip into place – ensuring that the thickest portion of the grip faced our palms.
The process did take some time to complete but was performed easily without the use of an air compressor. The only downside is that the grips had a tendency to slide until the rubbing alcohol had completely evaporated.
Despite the Racer’s Edge being advertised as their thinnest grip, the ESIs were noticeably larger than ODI Ruffians.
They also lacked the durability of their lock on counterparts. It only took one slow speed tumble to rip the grip up, although the tear hasn’t grown, and is unnoticeable when riding.
Where the ESI grips shine is in comfort. The extra cushion doesn’t offer the significant improvement in damping as the switch to a carbon bar, but the soft texture is a joy whether you ride with or without gloves. Although they are a little slippery in wet conditions if you choose to go bare handed.
The only downside to the grips is that the removal process is a little involved and they tend to get chewed up in a crash. Aside from those two demerits, the simple silicone grips are versatile enough for everything from commuting to full on trail riding. As an additional benefit, it’s one of the components you can purchase for your mountain bike that’s made entirely in the United States.
Prices for the grips range from $16.99-22.99. You can pick up a set at your local bike shop, or head over to the ESI Grip website to order a set in one of the eight different colors currently offered.